Man With Unyielding Depression Starts Picking Up Litter–And Helps Clear 13 Tons of Trash with Family and Strangers

Mike Scotland, a 32-year-old from Aberdeen, Scotland, turned to picking up litter along the River Don as a means to combat his severe depression. His journey began at a low point when he stood by the river, contemplating ending his life, but a phone call saved him. The sight of the river, polluted and neglected, became a haunting reminder of his darkest moment, prompting him to take action. With three black bags in hand, he started collecting litter, and his solitary effort soon attracted the help of a passing cyclist. This spontaneous collaboration sparked the idea for Community Clean Up, a group dedicated to beautifying the river area. Over time, Mike and his growing team, composed of family and strangers, have removed nearly 30,000 pounds of litter and 5,500 pounds of metal from the river, significantly transforming the landscape and even seeing otters return to the river for the first time in 40 years.

Mike’s commitment to environmental cleanup has profoundly impacted his family, particularly his young son, Lucio. From a young age, Lucio has been involved in litter-picking activities, even donning superhero costumes to “fight the litter” alongside his father. This family involvement extends beyond casual cleanups; after the devastation of Storm Babet, Mike’s social media plea for help brought 25 volunteers in 45 minutes, and eventually, 350 people joined to remove over 400 bags of debris. The sense of community and purpose has not only provided a therapeutic outlet for Mike but has also fostered a culture of environmental stewardship in his children. His partner Nikki and he maintain a network of over 100 local volunteers ready to support various cleanup efforts, embodying the spirit of collective action. Mike’s journey from despair to community leader demonstrates the transformative power of purpose and connection, with his family’s ongoing dedication serving as a beacon of hope and change for the future.

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